June Food Stamp Challenge — Day Seven

by Katy on June 7, 2010 · 26 comments

It’s now day seven of the June Food Stamp Challenge and my fridge and pantry look like I’m expecting a hurricane. Why? Because the “spend $50, get $10 off” Safeway coupon runs during the first week of the month, and I’ve now done two huge shopping trips, which pretty much fulfills most of my grocery shopping for the month.

I bought:

  • Cream cheese.
  • Cotttage cheese.
  • Eight boxes of cereal, (it was a deal where if you buy the eight, then the price went down to $1.49 per box before coupons.)*
  • Two cans of refried beans.
  • One box of Red Rose tea.
  • One jar of jam.*
  • One bag of chips.
  • One gallon of milk.*
  • Two pound bag of carrots.
  • Two bags of frozen peas.
  • One loaf of bread.
  • Bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, watermelon and avocados.
  • Lettuce.
  • Pistachios.*
  • Ten pound bag of potatoes.
  • One pound of deli ham.
  • Half gallon of Tropicana orange juice*

Total = $45.05

* Used a coupon

A lot of of what I bought was with an eye of stocking up when the price was low. I do not expect to go through eight boxes of cereal this month, but I may as well buy it when it costs 50ยข – $1. I could manipulate the amount I spend on food this month by only buying immediate needs, but that wouldn’t be true to the challenge. And July’s food expenses would suffer as a result.

My son has a school event on Tuesday, and I had offered to bring a large amount of cookies. (I was going to make my delicious ginger snaps!) Unfortunately, the school just informed us that we can’t bring homemade goodies, so I think I’ll hit up The Grocery Outlet on my way home from work. *Sigh* The ginger snaps are my ace in the hole. They don’t require expensive ingredients, and are always a huge hit.

Do you have any inexpensive recipes that you rely on? Please share your recipes in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly On Money June 7, 2010 at 5:48 am

Do you feel the quality of the food your buying has gone down with this challenge?


Katy June 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Molly on Money,

I do not feel that the quality of food my family buys has gone down at all. Still a big green salad every night and always a big bowl of fruit to choose from. Haven’t resorted to Totino’s frozen pizzas or “Budget Gourmet’s.”



Mary Kate June 7, 2010 at 5:55 am

Another very inexpensive cookie recipe is snicker doodles. They may be cheaper than ginger snaps, because of the molasses required for ginger snaps. People always love them.

Snicker Doodles

Cookie Dough:
1 cup shortening (I use butter)
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs*
2-3/4 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (I always omit)

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture:
4 Tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix dough and chill several hours. Make into balls and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees, aout 8 – 10 minutes

*I usually use soy flour and water in place of eggs (I saw it reccomended as a frugal idea. i don’t know if it is but I like that I’m not using raw eggs and it’s good for people that have egg allergies). Fir each egg use one heaping Tablespoon of soy flour (add with the dry ingredients) and two Tablespoons of water (add with the ingredients that are creamed).


Tammy June 7, 2010 at 5:59 am

I signed up for the challenge but haven’t reported in, so will remedy that here.
Family of 3 – $303/mo – $75/week. Last week was unusual week – crazy busy so no home cookin’ to speak of but kids everey which way too, so their meals were taken care of. Basically from 6/1-6/6, my spend was $53 – most of which was for fast food on the way to one event or another. My kids spend every other weekend with their dad and they were with him this past weekend, so that too was a contributor. I was also sick during htis crazy busy time, so when we did eat at home, it was to clean out our stock of prepared/processed food. I actually didn’t get to the store last week at all, so I am going to carry over the remainder of the $75 budget to this week – but only to this week. Menus planned for upcoming week don’t require much of a spend, but do need to do some stocking up on basics. Anthing leftover from this week ($97), will go to food pantry donation. Also, in menu planning, I came across three cans of perfectly good (expiration datewise – but yuck on flavor) fruit coctail that will be donated as well. Tonight is garbage night and I’m ashamed to say that waste reduction took a big hit last week from lack of real cooking – it’s ugly in there. But I did my menu plannning around using up some of the still salvageable produce – so that’s a good thing – unfortunately – I had a LOT to work with.


Ann June 7, 2010 at 11:14 am

I am inclined to ask the same question as Molly on Money about the quality of your food. One of the problems today is the overconsumption of processed foods and their “cheapness” being a drawing card to those of limited means. Chips, cereal and deli ham are all pretty poor choices…and you can see why the health of those on food stamps may be at risk. Certainly those items could be part of your “do without” mantra…even if you are experimenting with food stamps.


Katy June 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm

A single bag of chips for a family of four is within reason. I bought them so the boys could have a crunchy treat in their school lunches. I didn’t buy sugar cereal, and I feel fine about having Raisin Bran and Cheerios around the house for breakfasts and snacks. The “deli ham” was actually from the deli, and is for my husband’s work lunches. He has no access to refrigeration or a microwave in his line of work, and enjoys having a sandwich.

Did you not notice all the fruit and vegetables? I feel very good about the choices I made at the grocery store. There were no frozen pizzas, fruit snacks or other overly packaged foods.



Susan June 7, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I have taken the challenge. For the two of us that’s $202 this month.
So far, so good. I still have $159.28 left. And like our family and friends who use SNAP, we will make up for any overages with can/bottle returns if needed.
While things like snack foods or pop may seem unnecessary to some, to others they represent that bit of reward even when cutting back.
I know, if you are a baker, you might see buying bread an extravance when the shopper could be making bread from scratch.
To each, their own.
To check out some of my favorite and cheap (at times) recipes go to: http://susan-grandmaskitchen.blogspot.com/


The Saved Quarter June 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm

How annoying that you can’t bring home-baked goods for the school! For a family on a tight budget, pantry ingredients to make cookies can stretch much farther than the dollars spent on store bought (and less healthy) cookies.

As for quality of food, I can’t speak for Katy, but I don’t feel like the quality of our food has suffered from being on a food stamp budget. We could stretch the budget farther by buying more processed foods with coupons, but that’s just not how we eat. We’re still eating lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, low fat dairy, and occasional meat. I even buy organic meat and s-t-r-e-t-c-h it over several meals to reduce or per-meal cost. For example, I wrote a post in January about how a single chicken regularly makes four meals for my family of four. http://thesavedquarter.com/2010/01/17/one-chicken-four-meals-for-four/


Ruthie June 7, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I actually think the quality of food at Chez Wolk-Stanley sounds pretty much better than the average American. It may not be all wild rice, organic fennel and bison, but I think it’s varied, moderate in fat and sugar and tasty sounding.

Go Katy! I think you’re grand. ๐Ÿ™‚

Don’t be all judgey about food, people.


Mamadrums June 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Well said Ruthie. Go Katy!


Tammy June 8, 2010 at 8:39 am

Amen on the no-judgey. I was impressed with what Katey did with her $$ – my kids would LOVE what she got. I felt emberassed about putting how much I had spent on convenience/fast food last week – but it is what it is – I’m not perfect and when the going gets tough and Mom gets sick – the reality of my world is that I resort to whatever convenience I have available. I don’t feed my kids like that every week, but let’s face it – there are lots of overextended single moms out there like myself who may at times have to resort to the box of convenience. And speaking of convenience – my secret weapon of convenience is the locally-raised egg – amazing what I can do with it in under 10 minutes!


Rebecca June 8, 2010 at 9:04 am

Tammy, we are having a week, or 2, like that here. We are in the middle of a bath/ laundry remodel, and all 3 kids have a nasty bug giving them chronic explosive runny diapers. No laundry hookups. Nuf said. We are eating very “convenient” foods this week! I can’t wait to get back to normal!

I stir frozen peas into their boxed mac n cheese, it makes me feel less guilty.


WilliamB June 8, 2010 at 11:35 pm

I add edamame (immature soybeans, very tasty) for color and variety, and chopped waterchestnuts for crunch.

Rebecca June 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I know that I often feel judged by others when I pull out my FS card to pay for groceries. We eat vegetarian, and even vegan at least 4 to 5 days a week. Tons of fresh veggies and fruit. But occasionally I will buy chips and soda, or something “fast” like chicken patties etc. Once and a while treats are ok to have as long as they are not part of an everyday diet, and those treats are cheaper than going out.


WilliamB June 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Does it help that I wonder that my purchases are being judged, even without being on assistance?

My usual store is inexpensive and has reasonably good produce, but not great and definitely not during the winter. So I often go to a fancy-dancy store for produce and buy basics and processed foods at the usual store. This includes ice cream, frozen meals[1], chips, soda, baking chocolate, etc.[2] OTOH, I look *terrific* at the other place because my shopping cart is nothing but produce and their awesome salsa fresca. OTThirdH, my new CSA just started so I guess I won’t look awesome at any store.

[1] ‘Taint great stuff but better than buying lunch at work, which would give me *expensive* junk food. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.
[2] My diet is not as wholesome as Katy’s.


Judy June 7, 2010 at 7:21 pm

This conversation has become so mind boggling. I guess I never thought you’d be dinged for letting your husband have a ham sandwich in his lunch, or one bag of chips, or buying cereal because you were following a fs budget. I like to make raisin bran muffins from the cereal.
We don’t eat a lot of dry cereal now, but my daughters sure did when they were teens, and under $2 a box is a great deal in my opinion.
I got some huge, beautiful Oregon blueberries this week in Abq.for a great price and made a huge batch of muffins and froze some muffins and a box of berries.
Safeway’s $10 coupon weekly sounds like a great deal also. No Safeway here.


BarbS June 8, 2010 at 6:01 am

I have to agree with you, Judy. This conversation quickly became mind-boggling! And I also second (or third?) Ruthie’s comment above. Go Katy!

There are lots of choices, and we all move along the spectrum differently. I have a friend who watches what her family eats like a hawk. She eats only organic, only whole grains, no salt, lots of fruit and veggies, cooks from scratch, etc. etc. But she’s not a vegetarian, and eats meat nearly every day. Do I think she’s somehow “not doing it right” because she eats meat? Absolutely not. I applaud her for taking care of herself and her family in the way she thinks is best.

Similarly, Katy buys (nearly) nothing new. She doesn’t give me a hard time for the brand-spanking-new shorts I bought my daughter the other day. We all make choices, and (in my opinion) moderation is the key.

So thanks, Katy, for helping all of us to think more carefully about our consumption, whether regarding food or otherwise.


christajean June 7, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Did you know that ginger snaps are my absolute FAVE!!!
If I send you my address will you send me some for my birthday?!
Teehee… ;-D


Katy June 8, 2010 at 6:56 am


I will make you some ginger snaps next time you’re in town.



WilliamB June 8, 2010 at 2:55 pm

What’s with the “store bought only” policy? I can think of a lot of reasons that that’s crazy and only two that aren’t. And since you haven’t mentioned that your son’s school is kosher or halal, that leaves only one reason.


Karen June 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm

No home baked items can go to schools here either.
I think the reasons revolve around making sure they are being made in a kitchen that would pass health inspections. Plus, store bought have an accurate display of both ingredients and nutritional components as well as possibly allergens.


Karen June 8, 2010 at 6:12 pm

And really….the comments about the quality of food. Holy crap (no pun intended) you should see some of lists of things that I’ve read about in blogs. It’s ALL processed. I think Katy feels her family really well, probably better than most!


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl June 9, 2010 at 2:27 am

I think your list of groceries sounds just fine. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And hey, at least you feed your family potatoes (a while back, a reader criticized my family for not eating enough rice and potatoes.). lol


Char June 13, 2010 at 6:19 am

In my part of the country, there have been several large outbreaks of Hepatitis A in schools due to food eaten by students. It’s sad in a way, but I think the restrictions are in the children’s best interest. Also, don’t let the “organic, locally grown, free range, and free trade” food police get you down. I appreciate what you’re doing with the food challenge and find it interesting. Hopefully we can all learn something from the process!


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